Become a certified host

How do I become a certified host?

Step 1: Register as a business
Obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Visit The San Francisco Business Portal to learn more about applying for a Business Registration Certificate online. After obtaining a business registration certificate, a host may also visit a separate Tax Collector website to determine if they qualify for "Small Operator" status (optional).
Note: This step must be finalized before you can register as a certified host with our office.

Step 2: Register to become a certified host
Obtain a host certificate from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You may only offer short-term-rentals after you have received this certificate, and your certificate number must be posted on all listings advertising your short-term rental. Download the application on the San Francisco Business Portal.

Why must I register to become a certified host?

Short-term rentals in residences are only legal if you are registered with the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and have also received a certificate from the Office of Short-Term-Rentals.

If you are not certified and you rent a dwelling unit for periods of less than 30 nights, you are violating the City's short-term rental laws, and are subject to possible enforcement action, including substantial penalties.

Violations of the City’s short-term rental laws are subject to penalties of at least $484 per day for each dwelling unit in violation. These daily penalties begin on the day that a Notice of Violation is issued by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and continue to accrue until the violation is fully abated. Repeat violations may be subject to escalated penalties and referral to the City’s Attorney’s Office for additional civil and/or criminal penalties.

The San Francisco Property Information Map (under the "Planning Apps" tab) shows whether a short-term rental registry application has been approved for a property. No other identifying information from your application is posted online or provided to the public.

Am I eligible to legally host short-term rentals?

In order to start hosting short-term residential rentals in your home you must meet all of the following conditions:

1. Be the permanent resident
You must live in the actual dwelling unit that you wish to offer as a short-term rental for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year, as either an owner or a tenant.

  • If you are a new resident, you must have resided in this specific dwelling for at least 60 consecutive days prior to your application.
  • If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the specific residential unit in which you reside.

Certain types of properties are never eligible for short-term rental:

  1. Properties located in Treasure Island, Fort Mason, or The Presidio.
  2. Boats or similar watercraft (prohibited by Harbormaster).
  3. Income-restricted affordable housing (including Below-Market-Rate [BMR] units and public housing), as well as dormitories and Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) buildings.
  4. Group Housing properties are subject to the Planning Code (and other Building and Housing Codes) and are not eligible for registration as a short-term rental under Chapter 41A of the Administrative Code.
  5. Buildings subject to an Ellis Act eviction after November 1, 2014.
  6. Non-residential areas within buildings, such as commercial (office/retail) or industrial (warehouse) spaces.
  7. Sleeping quarters in most shipping containers and outdoor areas, including tree houses & vehicles (may also violate the Police Code).
  8. Legally established Accessory Dwelling Units (most "in-law" units, also known as "granny flats").
  9. Residential Hotels. A limited number of Residential Hotels are allowed to offer tourist hotel (short-term) stays in a portion of their rooms, based on a list maintained by the Department of Building Inspection. Those specific rooms may be offerred for tourist stays without registering with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Tourist Hotels, which are distinct from Residential Hotels, may offer short-term stays in all units, year-round, and are not required to register with the Office of Short-Term Rentals.

Many private agreements such as leases, homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental. While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.

If you are a renter (tenant), you will need to provide a copy of your lease or rental agreement when you apply. We will send a courtesy notice to the owner(s) of your unit to inform them of your application.

If your dwelling unit is subject to rent control rules, you may not make more than your monthly rent from short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.

If you are a resident of a tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, or are a co-owner of your dwelling unit, we will send a notice of your application to all owners of the building.

For properties located in RH-1(D) zoning districts, a neighborhood notification is required. This means that if you live in one of these districts, after you submit a complete application we will send a courtesy notice to all property owners and residential tenants who live within 300 feet of your unit. They will have 45 days to submit comments to us. Neighborhood input will only affect your application if someone submits sufficient evidence that your unit is not eligible for short-term rentals.

You can check to see if you live in an RH-1(D) district on the Property Information Map. Search for your address, and then choose the Zoning tab on the right to see your zoning district.

2. Have property liability insurance
You must have property liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000, or provide proof that property liability coverage in an equal or higher amount is being provided by any and all hosting platforms through which you will rent your unit. Proof of liability insurance is not required if hosting activity is only handed by a platform (website) that already extends similar liability coverage.

3. Resolve any code violations
Ensure that your dwelling unit remains compliant with all Building, Housing, Planning, and other City codes.

What is allowed once I'm a certified host?

Once you have received a Short-Term Residential Rental Registration Number you may:

  • Put up listing(s) on hosting platform websites
  • Rent a portion of your unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are also present (hosted rentals) for an unlimited number of nights per calendar year
  • Rent a portion or your entire unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are not present (unhosted rentals), for a maximum of 90 nights per calendar year

What you may never do with your registered dwelling unit:

  • You may never rent your residential unit or a portion of your home for more than 90 nights per calendar year while you are not also present overnight during the time of the guests' stay.
  • You may never rent illegal residential units, or those areas within your home that were built without completed building permits.
  • If you are a tenant (renter) in a rent-controlled unit, you may never make more than your monthly rent from your short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.
  • You may not offer more than 5 individual short-term rental reservations within your dwelling unit at the same time (i.e. offer no more than 5 individual beds as separate, bookable listings).

What if my application is rejected or my certificate is revoked?

If your application for a certificate is rejected, or if a previously-issued certificate has been revoked by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you may file a written appeal within thirty calendar days from the date of the notice of rejection or revocation. For further information, please review these procedures.